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distractedly

Discussion in 'English Only' started by antobbo, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. antobbo Senior Member

    UK
    italian, Italy
    HI all, I was wondering if you can help me clarifying the meaning of "distractedly" and its use (I have check on the dictionary already but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the explanation). Let's take the following example (I didn't take this from anywhere, just made it up)

    "Did you bring the over the beers?" asked Mike.
    But John was thinking about his wife. "I am not sure" he said distractedly.

    Here to me "distractedly" means that because he was thinking about his wife he didn't really think about the answer he gave to his mate, meaning that he probably knows whether he brought the beers or not but in that precise moment he couldn't care less about that. Is it ok to use distractedly with this meaning?
    thanks
     
  2. morior_invictus

    morior_invictus Senior Member

    Slovak
    I think you used it correctly, though the answer to the question sounds somehow strange to me. It is as if someone asked you "Are you dressed?" and you`d reply distractedly "I am not sure." :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
  3. Alby84 Senior Member

    Boston
    American English
    This sounds perfectly fine to me, with Morior's correction, of course.
     
  4. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    He seems more forgetful than distracted. He seems to have fully heard the question, but doesn't know the answer for some reason. In other words, it's not clear from the example that distraction is why he gave this answer. It's possibly distraction, but it's not obviously distraction.
    If he was really distracted, he would barely recognize that he had been spoken to so he might say "Yes, I put your hat on the table." or "No, it's not 5 o'clock yet."
     
  5. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    Well, as a person who is often distracted, I know I sometimes have not even heard the question you asked me. So you ask, did you bring the beers and I respond "I don't know" because I didn't even really hear the question and saying I don't know is less confrontational than saying sorry I can't focus on what you're saying right now.

    The response I don't know doesn't imply that the question was even heard.

    I think the original poster's use of distractedly is fine.
     
  6. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    My point was that we don't know from that answer whether the question was heard or not. It is possible that he was distracted, but it's possible that was not distracted but just didn't know. It's a possible use of "distractedly," but it's not a clear example of the use of "distractedly."
     
  7. aasheq Senior Member

    London, UK
    English (Estuary)
    "He said distractedly" is not bad grammar, but it is bad style. Any writer's handbook will tell you to avoid superfluous adverbs, especially in conjunction with the verb to say. It is clear from your context that he was distracted.
     
  8. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    I think the original poster wanted to make sure he correctly understood the word distractedly. I think his example, plus his explanation of the example, shows he did understand it.

    Myridon and aasheq both make good points, but in this case I think the point was a basic 'he do I get this or not' and I think he does.
     
  9. antobbo Senior Member

    UK
    italian, Italy
    ok thanks guys for the answers, yes I was just wondering whether I was using "distracted" correctly, but I take aasheq's point about superflous words
     
  10. Alby84 Senior Member

    Boston
    American English
    They're only really considered a problem if you overuse them. They're fine to use every once in a while for effect. I get where the others are coming from, but we have no idea how many times you've done this or plan on doing this in whatever it is that you're writing...if you're writing anything at all.
     
  11. antobbo Senior Member

    UK
    italian, Italy
    ok thanks for that, I will bear it in mind!
     

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